Sepia Saturday: University Avenue c. 1950

Some of my earliest memories involve this street, in fact this block. My parents lived four blocks south of here and one block east, in a tall brownstone apartment across the street from the University, where my dad taught English. My mum would stroller me up and down "The Ave" daily.

Moving north along the "parade" from right to left... we ate at Lun Ting's Chinese Cafe regularly (with its pagoda-like awning), where middle-aged waiters in grey pajama-like uniforms with red piping brought us magenta-edged tiles of barbecued pork. We bought books (oddly enough) at the University Bookstore, and once I got the hankering, bought my 45s there as well. It's still there, though it has expanded greatly. At the far end of the block we patronized Bartell Drugs, whose sign always reminded me a bit of a teddybear's head. You can see it against the white of the bank across 45th Street where my folks eventually based their mortgage when they bought a house a few years later. And beyond the ubiquitous Penney's department store in the distance is the edifice of the Wilsonian Hotel; it became a retirement home, where blue-haired, mustachioed ladies wearing woolly coats the color of barbecued pork hobbled daily to Manning's cafeteria across the way...

As the Mallory Apartments in the background, decades later a good friend of mine had the bad luck to be strolling past when he was struck in the skull by a piece of steel dropped by a window-cleaner on the top floor. He recovered after a lengthy coma but I never again walked along that stretch of sidewalk.

More Sepia Saturday here...


  1. I don't blame him, i wouldn't walk that stretch either after having my skull pierced by steel. Nice photo of the street with memories.

  2. That street looks very colorful. It must have been fascinating to a young child.

  3. It's good to see a street not drowned by tall buildings. Has it survived in this form?

  4. Amazingly, Bob, this stretch has remained pretty intact, though of course tall buildings have sprouted up here and there on neighboring streets.

    ...I neglected to mention that since I attended the UW, I eventually became intimately familiar with every nook and cranny of the U District.

  5. I find myself wondering whether that postcard - at least I assume it's a postcard - is one that you, or your family, have owned since that era, or whether you've picked it up more recently? I've been able to fill in a few of the blank bits from my ancestors' family history with lucky finds on eBay.

  6. Great picture and story, but I must admit I don't know what city or state this is from

  7. Brett: I've had that postcard since I was a kid!
    Howard: This is Seattle WA, sorry for the oversight!
    Tattered: Yes! There are now a fair number of chainstores on The Ave, but it is still primarily local shops.